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North Korea Plans to Launch Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions

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A North Korean official claims that a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) cryptocurrency is on the horizon. According to a delegate for the Committee for Cultural Relations, Alejandro Cao de Benós, the country plans to forge a token backed by a physical commodity like gold and the digital asset’s main purpose will be used to bypass U.S. and international sanctions.

Also read: Snowden: US Seizing My Book Revenue is ‘Good for Bitcoin’

North Korea Is Building a ‘DPRK Token’

Another nation state is in the midst of creating a digital currency but the North Korean cryptocurrency idea is intended to work in parallel with the local Korean won. Alejandro Cao de Benós, a member of the DPRK Committee for Cultural Relations and President of the Korean Friendship Association, told various news outlets this week that a DPRK token is in the works. Between April 18 and 25 of this year, North Korea held a cryptocurrency and blockchain conference which saw around 100 attendees in Pyongyang. Immediately after the event wrapped up, rumors of the North Korean government creating a digital currency made mainstream headlines. News publication The Diplomat reported that early clues also started arising in September 2017 when Kim Il Sung University released a report on the importance of digital currencies. Moreover, The Diplomat columnist Tae-jun Kang said that the conference itself and the DPRK token announcement was a signal to other nation states like the U.S.

“According to several Seoul-based North Korean experts, who believe the latest cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang was designed to send out a warning message to the United States and the international community that it can overcome sanctions by utilizing digital currencies,” Tae-jun Kang wrote in April 2019 after the conference in Pyongyang.

North Korea Plans to Launch a Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions
North Korean representative Alejandro Cao de Benós says a DPRK token is being constructed, but the project is in its very early stages.

Now Alejandro Cao de Benós is speaking on the subject with a few select news outlets this week and has told reporters that a DPRK token is being built. Speaking with Vice journalist David Gilbert, he said the digital token North Korea is constructing is still in its nascent stages, but clearly emphasized that the cryptocurrency was made to bypass strict U.S. and international sanctions. However, the new coin created by the North Korean government will not be a digitized version of the Korean won. “[It will be] more like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies,” Cao de Benós told Gilbert during a phone conversation. The North Korean diplomat added:

We are still in the very early stages in the creation of the token. Now we are in the phase of studying the goods that will give value to it.

DPRK Token Won’t Replace the Korean Won

Alejandro Cao de Benós has also spoken with the reporter Ben Muster from Decrypt and given a greater insight to the DPRK token. In the interview, Cao de Benós highlighted that North Korean citizens would still use the Korean won and that the new blockchain assets would be used by “banks and companies.” The concept of the DPRK token is different to China and the PBOC’s alleged digital yaun construction and the idea resembles Venezuela and Maduro’s petro cryptocurrency. There have been multiple reports detailing that average Venezuelan citizens don’t even use the petro and that the digital currency is mainly used by government officials and their friends to skip out on U.S. sanctions. Moreover, similarly to the DPRK token concept, Maduro didn’t replace the sovereign bolivar either, and the petro runs parallel with the local tender and is allegedly backed by oil and gold reserves.

North Korea Plans to Launch a Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions

During Cao de Benós’ interview, he claimed that the country was developing a digital asset that’s “based on something with physical value — in the international market.” The representative also said that the crypto needs to bolster a “more stable price for international settlements, between DPRK and other companies/individuals.” The columnist Ben Muster said that he reached out to DPRK officials but “requests for comment from the North Korean government went unanswered.” When reporter David Gilbert called North Korea’s Embassy in New York, the office said they could not verify Cao de Benós’ claims. “I am not in a position to give you an answer,” the North Korean Embassy spokesperson stated.

North Korea Plans to Launch a Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions
Just like the event in April, the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference is closed to certain members of the media and citizens who reside in the U.S., Israel, South Korea, and Japan. U.S. residents can apply to attend the event this year in Pyongyang.

On September 9, Cao de Benós announced the next Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference which will be held in February 2020. Just like the last event, the conference will be very exclusive but Cao de Benós has said the event will be much larger this year. Also, attendees will get a chance to visit Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea and Kim Il Sung University as well. Just like the prior Pyongyang crypto conference, there will be restrictions for members of the media and citizens who reside in the U.S., Israel, South Korea, and Japan. It’s likely more information will come from the next conference in regard to the purported DPRK token. There’s been multiple reports in the past of North Korean’s gathering technical knowledge on digital currencies like bitcoin. Last week someone asked Cao de Benós if DPRK residents were allowed to hold digital assets and Cao de Benós replied:

Yes, we even have programmers that are designing crypto wallets and other related apps right now.

North Korea Plans to Launch a Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions
Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference will be held in February 2020 and attendees will visit North Korea’s DMZ and Kim Il Sung University.

Venezuelan officials from Maduro’s regime have been very friendly with the North Korean government as well according to pictures Cao de Benós shared last August. The Venezuelan government opened an embassy in Pyongyang and Cao de Benós said “surely this diplomatic advance will be very useful in the defense against the imperialist invasion.” Just like Venezuela and Iran, North Korea has had issues with the U.S. for quite some time. However, with North Korea under Kim Jong-un’s rule, the country has had problems with many international bodies since holding its first nuclear test in 2006. The U.S. and a number of countries have imposed economic sanctions against the DPRK and it is hard for the region to do business with people and organizations overseas. As the popularity of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies has increased, it seems that North Korean officials have begun to appreciate how this technology can be used to bypass financial blockades and borders.

What do you think about North Korea creating a DPRK token backed by a physical asset like gold? What do you think about the nation states that are in the midst of creating cryptocurrencies? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Twitter, and Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.


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At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows

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In a coordinated fashion, more than 18 central banks worldwide have or plan to cut interest rates, sparking a domino effect of monetary easing. It’s been 10 years since the world has seen central planners orchestrate such harmonization in an attempt to save the economy from a deep recession.

Also Read: Money and Democracy: Why You Never Get to Vote on the Most Important Part of Society

A Large Number of Central Banks Slash Interest Rates

Economists have been saying for a while now that the global economy is headed for a severe wakeup call that could be worse than 2008’s financial crisis. The news started heating up at the beginning of 2019 and more than half of U.S. economists from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) said they believe an economic downturn is coming by 2020. Financial forecasters think in the midst of a macroeconomic storm from elections, trade wars between the U.S. and China, and a no-deal Brexit that it’s only a matter of time. Tumultuous geopolitical events have caused the world’s central banks to awaken from their slumber and start slashing interest rates. As the end of the year draws near, many central banks have started a rate cut frenzy.

Usually, when the economy is consistent and considered ‘strong,’ central banks keep interest rates higher. On the other hand, when the economy doesn’t look so hot, central banks cut rates so smaller financial institutions can borrow at a better rate. The concept is derived from Keynesian economics, the economic theory of total spending in order to stave off inflation. The goal of interest rate cuts is so the smaller hive of banks below the central banks can give the savings from better rates to consumers. However, instead of trickling down to the people, the excesses usually stay with the wealthy. While keeping the hard assets to themselves, the banking cartel also starts to lend at an alarming rate. They don’t care if individuals and organizations don’t pay up and they know they will have to deal with delinquencies and foreclosures. At the end of the day, all those issues just give the bankers another way to pillage hard assets like homes, land, boats, cars, and anything people can’t afford. Unfortunately, this cycle continues every few decades and generations who haven’t even been born yet are left with more debt.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows

Traditionally when central banks cut rates en masse it is a warning sign that the economy is likely headed for troubling times. In the past, people have always hedged their savings by using safe haven assets like gold to escape the wrath of rapid inflation and fiat currency devaluation. Nowadays, precious metals and cryptocurrencies are both benefiting from the doom and gloom financial forecasts. The following is a look at central banks that are currently planning for monetary easing and stimulus packages or have already approved financial inducement and slashed interest rates.

Japan

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has an accommodative stance toward monetary easing these days. In July, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda explained to the press that he was positive about keeping long-term interest rates at 0% and short-term rates to -0.1%. When negative rates were first introduced in Japan in 2016, the move was considered shocking. The following month, after the Federal Reserve cut rates this year, Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya said the BOJ was also fully prepared to offer more easing. One of the central bank’s board members also mentioned that Japan’s banks might start charging fees for savings accounts as well. This September, the BOJ is considering deep negative interest rate cuts to respond to global risks facing the economy.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

The U.S.

The Federal Reserve has already cut the U.S. interest rate by a quarter-point in July hoping to spur more lending and spending. When the Federal Open Market Committee and Fed Chair Jerome Powell sliced the rate for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, the group noted economic “uncertainties” remain. Now reports detail that Fed officials will lower rates by another quarter-point by the end of September. U.S. President Donald Trump has encouraged the Fed to cut rates even lower. “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to zero, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt,” Trump declared on September 11 on Twitter. “Interest cost could be brought way down, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term — We have the great currency, power, and balance sheet.”

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
During a conversation with Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Swiss National Bank, on September 6, the Fed’s Jerome Powell said: “We are not forecasting or expecting a recession.”

Europe

On Thursday, September 12, the European Central Bank (ECB) approved a new stimulus package and cut interest rates. Just like the BOJ and the Fed, members of the ECB are afraid of “worrisome inflation.” According to the ECB, the deposit rate dropped from -0.4% to -0.5% and this November the bank plans to begin €20 billion a month worth of bond purchases. “The Governing Council expects (bond purchases) to run for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates,” the ECB said.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
ECB President Mario Draghi’s growth and inflation projections have been dreary.

China

The economy in China has been floundering according to economists and the country has also been dealing with a trade war with the U.S. China’s People’s Bank of China (PBOC) revealed on September 6 that the bank would cut its reserve requirement ratio by 50 basis points. The PBOC also announced that a few specific banks might be entitled to a ratio reduction of 100 basis points if they qualify. China’s new bank cuts will start on Monday, September 16 and the PBOC claims the cuts will provide roughly 900 billion yuan ($126.35 billion) into the Chinese economy. Like Japan, China has an accommodative stance toward monetary easing and this is the third time this year the PBOC has made changes and the seventh time since the financial crisis in 2008.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
The head of the PBOC just got his job last year as China named Yi Gang its first central bank chief in 15 years. Yi Gang is very comfortable with monetary easing tactics.

South Korea

In a surprise move in mid-July, the Bank of Korea (BOK) announced reducing the country’s benchmark interest rates. The BOK also told the press that economists predicted rapid inflation forecasts and slashed the seven-day repurchase rate from 1.75% to 1.5%. “Economic circumstances have deteriorated since April … With the rate cut, we took into account the effects of Japan’s trade restrictions,” BOK governor Lee Ju-Yeol explained during a press conference. Seoul has had conflicts with Japan and just like China and the U.S., the two countries are locked in a trade row.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
“As low growth may continue for a considerable period of time, the Bank of Korea will support economic recovery by maintaining an accommodative monetary policy,” Governor Lee Ju-Yeol has stated in the past.

Russia

The Bank of Russia has been a friend of monetary easing and rate cuts making its third interest rate reduction on September 6. Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina and members of the board told the public that “If the situation develops in line with the baseline forecast, the Bank of Russia will consider the necessity of a further key rate reduction at one of the upcoming board of directors’ meetings.” Russia’s benchmark rate was trimmed down to 7% from 7.25%. Russian forecasters believe the inflation rate of 4% could drop to 3% and the Minister of Economic Affairs Maxim Oreshkin believes the bank should continue easing even further.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
Russian President Vladimir Putin with finance minister Maxim Oreshkin. Oreshkin wants deeper interest rate cuts.

India

In August, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decreased rates for the fourth time in 2019. The rate cut this summer was the largest since 2010, shaving 35 basis points, and the RBI will now lend to banks at 5.4%. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman stood by the rate cut and insisted that a “significant rate cut would do a lot of good for the country.” Members of the RBI and government officials plan to meet this October and the country could see further rate cuts in the near future.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman doesn’t have issues with monetary easing and announced yesterday the RBI and the government would fund the real estate and export sector while also offering a ₹10,000 crore special window for unfinished development projects.

Thailand

Central bankers in Thailand are scared inflation is growing out of control and surprised the world on August 8 by cutting repurchase rates from 1.75% to 1.5%. The Bank of Thailand cited slow economic growth, trade wars, and economic uncertainty. The trade war between the U.S. and China was highlighted during the announcement. According to reports, five panel members voted for the cut and two wanted the interest rates to remain unchanged. Two weeks prior to the quarter-point cut, the seven members of the central bank committee unanimously voted to keep the rates untouched.

At Least 19 Central Banks Give Way to Monetary Easing As Economy Slows
(Left to right) Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, Predee Daochai, chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association, and Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Kalin Sarasin. “Additional measures may be needed to cope with the stronger baht,” Supant Mongkolsuthree said on September 5. “Those measures include imposing a withholding tax, outbound investment promotion and tapering the bond supply. These are ultimately the regulators’ decisions.”

10 More Central Banks Participate in Monetary Easing

All of these banks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the large number of other central banks participating in monetary easing. Other financial institutions include central banks from England, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, and the Philippines. Despite decades of poor central planning, these financial institutions retain full power over the monetary system. The people have absolutely no say in how the system is adjusted, tightened and eased.

However, as the years pass, more individuals and organizations are growing tired of the banking cartel’s practices. A great number of people have sought alternatives like cryptocurrencies so they can protect their wealth from the financial system that’s clearly rigged. Individuals who are sick of bailing the banks out and paying for their mistakes believe that at some point the scales will tip. It merely takes enough people to opt out of the monopolized monetary system. At the rate at which people are learning about a new wave of monetary innovation, at some point there will be a mass exodus whether banks and governments like it or not.

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What do you think about the cascade of central banks unveiling rate cuts and monetary easing methods? Do you think the central banks know what they are doing when it comes to monetary policy? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Kim Hong-Ji, Wiki Commons, Fair Use, and Qilai Shen.


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